A lot of us struggle to work-out where we see ourselves career-wise. It’s a normal struggle, especially early on in your career. With my experience, I can at least shed some light on sales as an option. However, I must add that I’ve only ever worked in sales and am highly biased towards it. So, from what I’ve learnt across two global multi billion-dollar companies and two different regions, sales is one of the best industries to get involved in – here’s why.
Finding your feet:
The word “sales” is all too often associated with feelings of manipulation and pressuring. We’ve all been there, on the receiving end of some awful sales pitch. Now most of us pre-judge sales as a career choice and would never consider going into such a field. But it’s up there as one of the highest paying careers world-wide with added commission benefits that offer you the chance to push salaries very high. It’s a work hard and reap the rewards culture.
Like many others, I accidentally fell into this bracket of early 20-something graduates who have the ability to go places but are unsure of how to get to that place. It’s not a bad thing by all means, in fact, keeping your options open and being careful before making important decisions is the best way to progress.
It’s not selling
There’s a number of things we have to distinguish first of all. Sales is not about exploiting people for our own benefit or promoting products that we know won’t fit our client’s expectations or real requirements. It’s not about tele-marketing and making crazy amounts of phone-calls or cold-calling people who don’t want to be called.
In reality, the key to good salesmanship is a dissociation between yourself and “selling”. Get as far away as possible from calling yourself a salesman. It’s a dirty-word and many agree on this. Unlike so many other articles on sales where you will find a nice picture of smiling, innocent-looking employees with never-used headsets on, I will focus on the real-side of successful sales.
When I question my friends on why they haven’t considered sales, they often lean towards, “I am so bad on the phone” … or “I hate making phone calls, it’s not for me”. To tackle this, let’s get away from “selling”. People do not like to be sold to – fact. Ever had that bloke called Steve on the phone or in the streets woefully trying to make eye contact with you? Remember how painful it was to listen to that horrendously scripted pitch to the point of near-vomit? Yep, that’s the bad side of sales. The one that wants your money, your contact details and nothing else.
In fact, good sales is the ability to match your client conversations to your own personality. Because when you are natural over the phone, you suddenly appear genuine and trust-worthy, which is essential with a capital E. All good sales book will defend the point that “people don’t like to be sold to … but they do like to buy things” … The sooner you stop saying you’re a salesman and tailor your methods around that of a “consultant” or a problem-solver, the earlier your numbers will fly in. You look at solutions before numbers and margins.
“Get as far away as possible from calling yourself a salesman. It’s a dirty-word and many agree on this”
The art of consulting:
In truth, a good salesman, no wait – I hate that word. A great consultant is one who is comfortable with talking over the phone and personifying confidence, fantastic listening skills and a knack for problem-solving. If you hold these characteristics then you’re built for account managerial, consulting and any client-facing role. Which are noble careers, especially to begin with.
The beauty of this world of consultative-selling, is that the skills you pick-up are so transferable. Suddenly you find yourself becoming more assertive, more organized and independent. For example, when booking flights recently, I was speaking with said airline employee in person at the airport, as I wanted to add-on a return-flight to my current one-way ticket. I wanted to ensure everything was correct before the airline employee booked them. I was asking questions I would never have asked before to ensure everything was perfect. Now I knew there would be queues on my return flight so I had to get to the airport early and to spend my time in a recommended restaurant before the flight for full enjoyment.
I learnt all of this because I was intent on getting the right result. In this case by asking questions I never would have before my time in consulting, I had almost guaranteed that my return flight home would go smoothly and be a success. And all of this happened naturally and inquisitively. I owe it to the preparation behind daily calls, extracting information and getting the right results. It’s fair to claim my experiences in sales has forced me to become more organized and questionable in my own life, and to my benefit.
Progression can be fantastic. It’s takes a while to begin with, but once you start to understand your clients to the point of knowing when it’s their dog’s birthday next week, you become important as you have begun to build that magic sales word of rapport in the market. If you’re competent, your clients and partners will start coming to you for advice, a sort-of parent who knows the answers to their deepest fears. You are the consultant after all and as long as you can help clients understand how you can help them, the business will flow.
Alongside the aforementioned, transferable skills also fall in-line with a detailed understanding of your market – its dynamics, usual sales cycles and buying periods. You become an expert in the market outlook and its longevity. This is extremely valuable information to any organization and beneficial towards your future career as well. You’ll be able to talk in detail about market dynamics and sales strategies with friends, other businesses and in future interviews. Useful, right?
These are the kind of skills that makes sales the perfect job to launch-you in any direction you wish to follow, especially if you’re still ripe in your career or just starting out. It’s a win-win situation if you’re built for this kind of role. I think as an overall view, these are all essentially skills that build you to becoming a leader in your field. Listening, pro-activity, communication and time-management. It’s up to you whether you wish to pursue a career in leading people or maintaining a client-set. After all, statistically most CEOs and leaders come from Sales-driven backgrounds.
Happy selling and we hope you enjoyed this CTS article. If you need more assistance or information – email us firstname.lastname@example.org
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I’ve been living in Barcelona for around 13 months now. That’s enough time to get to know the coastal sun-city that’s big enough to get lost in yet easily available to being explored fully. Below are some of my experiences of living abroad you may find useful if you’re planning on making the leap overseas. Here’s what I’ve learned so far from my time in Barcelona (you probably didn't expect a few)!
A home away from home:
After a busy 13 months I’ve gotten to know this city well. Barcelona has this intoxicating and laid-back atmosphere which is relished by those who wonder its streets and are amazed by unique architecture. The infamous Antoni Gaudi has touched parts of the city with his truly special master-pieces.
"Barcelona has this intoxicating and laid-back atmosphere which is relished by those who wonder its streets and are amazed by unique architecture"
My 13 months out here so far has been a journey I had never expected to be so good. My move from the grey life in London out to the sun-infested and vibrant culture of Barcelona was something I cannot understate. While in winter it barely drops below 10 degrees Celsius and for six months of the year it’s over 20, the warm climate is perfect for all. Espresso or “cortado” is appropriate at any time of the day out here, as is "cerveza" (no translation needed). There are no “normal shops” in this city, only endless streets lined with tapas bars that are inter-twined with Catalan spirit and life. Barcelona is in no rush to do anything. And I love it.
Be ready to change:
When or if you choose to move abroad, there’s so many things you have to figure out, especially when you live somewhere with a different language. Looking at the latest stats on MoveHub, it’s clear that living overseas is good for your health, wealth and happiness. And according to their study of 1,000 expats, “life is a lot sunnier, more relaxed and far less pressured and more enjoyable”. But things run differently and you have to adapt. You can never anticipate it being perfect or prepare you for what to expect. You learn to just go with the flow. Slowly but surely you can look at yourself and realise you’re changing around the new environment. And when you realise this it’s a special feeling knowing that a city has the power to change you.
"There are no “normal shops” in this city, only endless streets lined with tapas bars that are inter-twined with Catalan spirit and life. Barcelona is in no rush to do anything. And I love it"
Those Spanish or French classes you might have taken once? Nah, they don’t mean anything when you have a local Spaniard going full force at you in some lyrical madness. Or was that Catalan? If you think that today’s world of Skype and Whatsapp can somehow make up for not being back home, then you’re wrong. Can anything bring you closer to home? Nope, it’s just not the same. You have to fork out for the flights and get used to knowing the airport better than your own home. You also end up with two of everything. It’s a nightmare having to buy a new clothes, a new desk and new lights when you have all of this back in your old life. Not all of it can realistically be shipped to your new flat. Especially when you take just one bag like I did. You have to pack light and collect the rest trip-by-trip as you eventually visit home again and again.
The power of a new city:
When most people move abroad, they often speak highly of their new homes, but there’s always that niggling aspect to any new move. And Barcelona is no different, it has those long-waits for any kind of restaurant and café service, that crowded feel in areas by the beach and the ceiling above you in your career. But despite this, Barcelona has that power to swallow you whole.
It’s easy to be lost among the mess of colour and uninterrupted life, with the freedom to explore the coast line at your fingertips. Unimaginable beauty surrounds Barcelona and the Southern Spanish coastline, with the mountainous Pyrenees and Basque country to the North offering a unique blend of environment in which you needn't escape the Spanish borders ever in a lifetime. It’s hard to find a reason to leave the Catalonia region even – you can never get bored.
"Most of my new friends at work won’t ever make the trip back home again. The trip to Barcelona really has the ability to be a one-way ticket"
This bustling international metropolis kindly mixes foreigners and locals in a cosmopolitan clash. They’re ambitious but they’re relaxed about it. They’ll know they will get where they want to be, someday. And they’re in no rush to skip the pleasures of life to pursue that career as quickly as possible. So why am I confused about Barcelona? Well, life is honestly harder. Yes you get that love and mystery of foreign land, but it’s kind of like starting life again, elsewhere. With the unfamiliarity comes insecurity. And in a new life where I've left my things behind, including a busy lifestyle, things just seem … incomplete and somehow short-term.
Prepare to become that guy:
If you get the chance you have to leave your home and work abroad. The mix of new cultures on offer changes you personally in ways you can’t imagine. From my own experiences, I would never have experienced that young and ambitious culture anywhere else. The possibilities to travel and do endless enjoyable things keeps you on your toes. But you will be endlessly asked if you speak the language or love the beach. No I don’t speak Spanish, merely Spanglish at a push. Yes, I love the beach, but I’ve probably only been once every three weeks at best. Yes, I do enjoy my tapas and sangria, but no I don’t drink it daily like everyone expects. Aside from the questions, you’re also seen to be a hero. People find out about your life when they visit, the little insights and pay-check at the end of the month – you become that expat who’s living the dream. It’s cool to have that status. When I come back and visit the UK, the people are bored, the food sucks and the weather is … well, you already know.
You’ll learn to love the things you used to hate, like rain:
It’s true, however, that I miss my home island of the UK. After a year away you realise it’s the little things back home that you don’t realise how grateful you were for. And from my experiences in Spain, I miss the green, I miss the rain and the grey (hard to believe, right?!), I miss not having to cool down every 5 minutes from the burning sun. And let’s not forget the every-day supermarket food. You don’t realise the beauty of Cadbury’s chocolate until you leave!
Stuck in limbo:
Living in a multi-cultural and tourist hotspot is kind of depressing. Barcelona is on any top-10 for amount of tourists visiting. And in any top 3 spot for tourist-per-indigenous head. With so many new faces every day in a not-so-big city, people come-and-go and it’s everywhere. If you work in this kind of environment, surrounded by people on holiday, you crave traveling too and begin to miss home and your friends. It’s a strange feeling I’ve never experienced before. I worked out that it’s almost too true that expats are less likely to plant roots in a city like Barcelona. The reality is, the economy is struggling and the desire for expats to fully integrate into Catalan culture is lacking, if not, non-existent.
There’s a point where you can kind of be stuck in limbo, neither here nor there. It’s difficult to comprehend at times. Friends back home get on with their lives and you start to miss out on all the excitement, the birthdays, the weddings and the births.
But the aforementioned are so unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Nothing can compare with the decision you make to move. Treat this as a call-out to all those wanting to move abroad and thinking twice before they commit.
Don’t think, just do it. The sacrifice in home-comforts, salary or whatever it may be, are too worth it. It’s an experience you’ll never get again.
Barcelona is now my home away from home. And I’ll always come back here with a smile on my face, from wherever I may go next in my journey.
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Perspective – “a particular attitude towards or way of regarding something; a point of view”.
One day recently I found myself driving down a road I knew only too well – I know every turn, every shop and every house along its path. It’s the same road leading to the same destination I’ve always known. But despite my knowledge of the road and where it led, I had never driven back in the opposing direction, I’d usually take a different way back (don’t ask me why). This time was different, however, as the road I normally take back was closed, forcing me to return the same way I had come.
Before long, I had to stop halfway and check Google Maps on my phone. I was convinced I was lost. How could this be the same road I always came down? The houses I thought I knew had huge gardens behind them with fields stretching out to a river. I didn’t know there was a river? It’s funny how I can live for over two decades in one tiny village area, and only discover most of the landscape after looking back on the way I’d come.
It goes to show the importance of turning things upside down once in a while. It’s a little thing called seeing things in a different perspective. Amazon CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos was an active spokesperson for its importance. He once said, “perspective is worth 80 I.Q. points”. And it’s easy to see why. Some of the most important business/ scientific discoveries came from shifts in perceptive and turning ideas on their head.
The next time someone dislikes a film you loved, maybe it’s because they weren’t seeing or picking up on the things that you were. Me and my friend recently watched a film in the cinema. To my surprise, I liked it and they disliked it. I couldn’t understand why? The cinematography was immense and I found the story line thrilling. Normally they would have really liked it – we’ve always like the same films. But then I discovered that they had just watched their favourite film the night before. What normally would be a great film can only at best appear average and worse than it was in reality against the best. The fresh memories of the highest-quality film from the previous night had changed their perspective in the cinema as they could compare them together.
A rather amusing TED Talk featuring advertising guru, Rory Sutherland, particularly caught my attention on the topic. He draws attention to the “power of reframing things” and gives a funny example of being alone at a party. You can either stand there, outside on the balcony looking bored and unsociable, speaking to no-one. Or, if you simply find yourself with a cigarette in hand, sporting a new posture and everyone “suddenly thinks you’re a f***ing philosopher”.
“In other words, things are not what they are; they are what we think they are and what we compare them to”
So why is perspective important? Well for one thing and as we saw just then, you can appear to not care or have less interest in things or people as they slowly fade from your immediate memory and thought. It doesn’t necessarily mean that people or objects are less important and useful to you, but it suggests we can forget at how important people once were to us, or how much we loved something in the past that slowly appears less amazing as the feeling produced from it has worn thin.
Consider the former as a tool to evaluate what you’re doing, how you act, how you are perceived,your posture, and use it to benefit yourself. After all, life is all about making decisions, perhaps considering different perspectives can give you the added insights required to make informed decisions. Or perhaps carrying some cigarettes on you can increase your ability to look candid and intriguing.
Perspective is beautiful, it’s a human quality. And of course, anything human is naturally flawed, as we are after all … the perfect imperfect beings.
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Find the link for that TED Talk on perspective here > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iueVZJVEmEs
“My life is so hectic right now … I don’t have time to do what I want … I am constantly drained”. We all experience this once in a while and need to get ourselves “back on track” – read the below and in about 4 minutes you’ll have the essentials to lead that balanced and healthy lifestyle you may have been missing.
Seven a night, at least
First and foremost, seven hours of sleep a night is essential! Set yourself a timer on your phone, cut out the late-night Netflix and get in bed with time to reach that magical 7-hour threshold. Whatever you have to do or undo, plan your evenings and mornings so that you’re waking up with the right amount of sleep and your body will thank-you later.
Drink, then drink again
It’s known that two litres of water a day is necessary. You’re not drinking enough if your urine is anything but a transparent colour. I find that finishing a fresh 1.5 litre bottle of water before, during and after sleep puts me in a better state to survive the rest of the day. And don’t stop there, fill it up again when you start to feel thirsty and make sure you get it down, you’re a warrior and you need to be alert to whatever may come your way. Whether it’s an angry manager, your girlfriend insisting on trying some of your Godly “too-good-to-be-shared” food, or the firing of 9am, algorithm-like questions headed straight your way that you realllllllly don’t want to answer – you’ll be ready for anything! As famously said by Bruce Lee, “be water, my friend”.
Eat the good stuff
Diet is sooo important. Stick to the boring food groups and get the right amount of protein, carbs, healthy fats, fruit, veg, vitamins, minerals, bla bla bla – just eat it and you’ll soon look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, before he hit the old-man status. It’s up to you to make the boring exciting by adding in some spice. We’ve recommended some great food blogs below that’ll ensure your body is consuming only the healthiest and tastiest foods. Don’t forget to plan to eat smaller portions more frequently and thank me later. Food is life.
As you may have noticed, everything comes down to that word we like to use, PLAN.
Scheduling your day in periods/ sessions/ sets (call it whatever you want, I’m easy) is the best way to lead that all-amazing balanced and healthy lifestyle that will have others gaping at your time-management and all-rounder status.
Physically writing things down on your phone and setting reminders will keep you aware of what and when you’re doing something while encouraging you to actually do it. Not bad huh? Need some gym time? Plan an hour after work – write it down and stick to it. Meeting friends? Plan a time where you can cram in that much-needed catch-up and socialising without compromising on other aspects of your new, let’s be honest, inspiring lifestyle.
Break the rules, a little
Things will come up you can’t plan for. Make time for these – if you have to swap time for friends with periods you had saved for exercise or reading (knowledge is power!) then swap them. But think of quick alternatives that ensure you maximise your ability to combine things at once.
If you’ve not listened to anything I just said, at least take this away. “Own” your life to the point that if someone asks you what you’re doing at 8pm, you’ll be able reply that you’re either cooking dinner, catching up on the news, having “chill time” or … you’ve just scheduled in a slot to go for that drink (inevitably you’re about to be asked as people want to ask you about your new amazing life) at 8pm with said person. It’s a win-win.
And who doesn’t like sleeping, drinking, eating good food and chilling with friends? Welcome to your new superman/woman lifestyle.
For more CTS articles and content find us coffeetablesessions.com and Instagram (@coffeetablesessions.com). Don’t forget to like and comment below and email us at email@example.com if you want to join our pretty awesome team of bloggers, writers and digital nomads! (Yes we are cool).
Great food blogs:
See you next time, newly improved human!
That night will never be forgotten. On the evening of June 23rd last year, the United Kingdom won by majority vote to begin negotiating their “exit plan” and departure from the EU. The sudden awakening of Article 50 was a monumental moment in British history, but it came crashing down upon the hearts of many across the world who favour an unbroken Europe. So here we are today, almost one year on from the vote and in a handsome position to assess the start of the post-Brexit era.
The island nation
By looking at the historic relationship between the UK and the EU over the past 40 years, the physical separation from the European mainland has always served to reinforce at least a cultural distance between the two economic powers, with the UK priding itself on its innate independence and wealthy heritage. This includes anything from the use of its own language, the monarchy and legal systems to the Commonwealth and global influence through an active commitment to the UN security Council and membership of the G7/ G20 bodies.
Janice Morphet, in her recently published book, “Beyond Brexit?: How to Assess the UK’s Future”, draws attention to some important differences. Number 1: The UK doesn’t see the EU as a main source of political influence in global affairs. The historic relationship with member states across two world-wars has brought a different “sensibility to the culture and politics” of much of the EU. Number 2: Europe is historically more “welfarist” in its culture when compared with the UK. It’s supportive of its citizens, against the liberalisation of labour markets and in favour of working people through trade unions. Number 3: Westminster has kept the EU at an arm’s length from the outset, with EU agreements seen “as less binding than their legal status requires”.
In short – the UK has always been encouraged to view the EU through a British lens, where policy “is made in five-year electoral cycles, in an episodic way”, according to Morphet. This is something the UK has never culturally adjusted to, helping blossom it’s difficult relationship with the EU in comparison to other mainland states. And above all, there has always been limited knowledge and familiarity of how the EU worked, with no common-language policy enforced or understanding of the direction in which the EU was heading. Many Britons, including myself, feel no cultural connection or similarities to the EU and the unelected directors in Brussels (we will visit this point later) whatsoever.
“The UK has always been encouraged to view the EU through a British lens” …
The Importance of a united Europe, without Britain
But despite the differences, (of which there are many) the EU is the UK’s largest trading partner with roughly 50% of UK GDP derived from the EU’s 27 other states. The membership provides a discounted trade cost, making goods and services cheaper for UK consumers and the world’s largest trading area for UK business’ exports.
Looking towards LSE’s recent paper on Brexit, titled “The Consequences of Brexit for UK trade and living standards”, it’s clear that higher tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade will be imposed on the UK as a sanction to them leaving and to maintain its own longevity. The paper argues that with the UK representing just 18% of the EU’s single-market GDP (Dhingra, et al. LSE), many claim the UK are in a difficult position to try and negotiate some kind of non-membership deal composed of delicately attached tariffs.
Figures such as the above have led professors, economists, scholars and academics world-wide to massively criticise the decision to leave. Diane Coyle, professor of economics at Manchester University goes as far as arguing that the “Brexit vote will tear a hole in the fabric of the economy”. Since the vote, several banks have claimed that Brexit is forcing them to rethink their attachment to the UK and review investment decisions. HSBC said in February that it would need to move 1,000 jobs to Paris, where it already has large operations progressing. Jamie Dimon (JP Morgan CEO), when quoted by the Guardian, argues that Brexit could mean the UK operation losing a quarter of its 16,000 strong workforce. Some firms are looking towards Hong Kong or Singapore which would be a cheaper alternative if forced to operate outside of the EU.
“Brexit vote will tear a hole in the fabric of the economy”
The renaissance of the City
Despite the expected short-term downturn, there’s still cause to be assured of a functioning post-Brexit world, where the UK could share a relationship with the EU similar to that of Norway, or a member of the EEA (European Economic Area). There are three main alternatives for the UK following Brexit: remain part of the single market like Norway, who have no tariffs on trade but make significant contributions to the EU (83% of the UK’s payment [House of Commons, 2013]); negotiate bilateral trade deals with the EU as Switzerland and Canada have; or trade with the EU under the WTO rules as the US and many non-EU countries do. According to LSE’s paper mentioned earlier, it’s likely that the UK will have to implement rules concerning the single market, including legislation in relation to: employment, consumer protection, environmental and competition policy. The severity of the rules imposed on the UK, however, is the real question we won’t know until we begin to edge closer to 2019. These sanctions have the capabilities to make or break the UK’s economy following on from Brexit.
“There are three main alternatives for the UK following Brexit”…
Nonetheless, the UK will effectively be an independent player for the first time in over 40 years and free to seek its own trade deals with the rest of the world. A lot will depend on Britain’s ability to negotiate FTAs (foreign trade agreements) with the rest of the world, giving many pro-Brexiters the cause to believe in the promotion of trade with China, India and the US among many others. Iain Mansfield, the winner of last year’s IEA Brexit prize, made an interesting point in a blueprint for Britain’s future which won him €100,000. He successfully outlined the potential for the UK to focus on building FTAs with major trading nations, deepen its engagement with organisations such as the G8, G20, OECD and in Europe, while securing open-trade relations.
Whether you believe the UK will be granted the opportunity to continue trading within Europe while progressing new agreements elsewhere or not, it’s too early to say for definite that this route would not be a success. By drawing attention to this “optimistic” outcome so often cited by academics worldwide, we can find quotes in recent articles by Bloomberg and the Guardian who state that “96% of business leaders were confident their company can adapt to life outside the EU” (Bloomberg), showing the kind of confidence and resilience many have in the wake of the decision. In fact, wage growth currently remains solid, unemployment continues to stay low, business activity continues to expand and house prices are still rising (The Guardian). The FTSE 100 share index was even close to an all-time high in October, a long-way off the predictions many threw forward in the early days of the referendum.
“96% of business leaders were confident their company can adapt to life outside the EU”
Politicians including Johnson and Gove have argued that it’s likely the tariffs imposed on the UK will be lower than expected, purely because of the UK’s lust for importation and as its status as the fifth largest economy worldwide. Morgan Stanley went as far as backing the leave camp in “winning an arm-wrestle” with Brussels over trade, especially in relation to automobiles. In a report they produced this year, it’s argued that “Europe has as much to lose, if not more, to lose than to gain from its access to the rich and large UK market, with over €30bn in annual export sales, and potentially €3-4bn in UK earnings”. Again, when we observe the financial services industry, split between the banks and insurers around “the City” of London, Canary Wharf and the hedge fund and private equity businesses that populate Mayfair, it’s clear the UK has a sovereign wealth worth investing in. Perhaps the UK really are in a position to negotiate their terms that best fit all nations on an economic perspective?
“Europe has as much to lose, if not more, to lose than to gain from its access to the rich and large UK market”
Pierre Henri Flamand, senior portfolio manager at GLG partners, looks at Brexit as potentially producing a “Big Bang” or an excuse to improve London’s prospects of doing business elsewhere like Asia and Africa where the ability to strike trade agreements may have been hampered by the UK’s membership of the EU”. Others, including Harriet Agnew of the Financial Times, state that “the UK now has the ability to reinvent itself with a new mission. It’s an exciting opportunity to deregulate and stimulate growth”. Outside of the Article 50 process, UK universities and research funders are already exploring opportunities to scale up international collaboration. This could include bilateral agreements with the US, and Commonwealth countries like Australia, Canada, India, Singapore and New Zealand, according to ScienceMag’s James Wilsdon.
Many in the City resented being ruled by “an unelected bureaucracy in Brussels” (Financial Times, 2017). London now has the chance to become the Singapore of Europe, a less regulated offshore centre which should be competing with cities outside of Europe, like New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai, according to Howard Shore, executive chairman of Shore Capital Group.
The exit from the EU may require the UK to quickly renegotiate existing FTAs and will most certainly require them to request deals with new partners, particularly those in the Asia-Pacific where economies “have a heavy reliance on trade”. These agreements have the potential to be more favourable and deeper than existing EU agreements and can include emerging issues such as non-tariff measures and e-commerce. But at this point in time, a lot depends on the decisions made by Brussels and the influence of Merkel who naturally wishes to keep the EU thriving, with or without the UK. If Britain successfully negotiates their way out of Europe and maintains profitable FTAs elsewhere, the aforementioned data suggests that there’s hope for a world in which Britain can thrive outside the realm of the European Union.
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Please find the link below to Janice’s fantastic book on Brexit, as quoted in the article.
Privacy is an important area of conversation, period. But today more than ever it’s the topic on everyone’s lips. It’s natural for us to desire that precious time alone. Being apart from others and the feelings that come with it (everything from guilt to pressure and from joy to stress and disappointment!) is relaxing and necessary for us humans. It’s nice not to be judged or assessed for what we do once in a while. However, our privacy is increasingly being scrutinised and pushed into grey areas as governments walk upon thin lines between infringing our privacy rights and protecting us against contemporary threats like terrorism. In this session we aim to question whether we can ever be truly free from government’s and large corporation’s watch today.
In TIME’s 2013 article, “the Surveillance Society”, writer Von Drehle makes a number of interesting points on contemporary surveillance. Privacy is for the most part an illusion, but a good one at that as it allows us to live without being “paralysed by self-consciousness”. It gives us room to be fully human, sharing intimacies and risking mistakes. However, Edward Snowden’s exposure of the NSA’s vast data-collection programs in 2013 highlighted that rising technological capabilities are breaking “the illusion of privacy”. Looking back at this case and the recent rise in debate on privacy ever since has led us to believe an Orwellian “surveillance society” is beginning to establish itself.
It’s hard not to draw similarities to the oppressed 1984 society to today. Leave your house and try to count how many surveillance cameras you can find. We recently asked one of our CTS bloggers based in London to count how many cameras he could spot on his fifteen-minute commute into the city for work one morning. They found cameras on almost every angle of every single building, from office to bank to shop and not to mention all public transport. They got to in-excess of 70 CCTV cameras on one road before he felt the numbers more than exceeded the backing needed to make our point. Surveillance Studies Net (SSN) adds to the debate by drawing attention to the “ubiquitous power of surveillance”. Not only is surveillance obvious but it’s also remarkably well hidden from us too. It is embedded within systems, structures and the interests they represent. Its application becomes taken for granted and its consequences go unnoticed. Thus, the issue of whether we can ever be free from this kind of control is complex as data has the ability to travel silently across international boundaries where it can be harder to identify and regulate.
In the UK alone there are over 20% of the world’s CCTV cameras. It’s a chilling statistic and it makes the UK the most watched country in the world with one camera for every 11 people. Surveillance merely begins with the camera. Now we are seeing a huge rise in affordable drones and satellites which are beginning to litter our skies. Our smartphones are supplying big corporations with masses of information and data about their owners which is bought and exploited. License-plate readers are stationed across our bridges, motorways and police-vehicles. They detail our speeds, our locations and track where we are going and for how long as we move around.
So with this huge build-up in data supplied from surveillance equipment, we can see the “awesome force of 0s and 1s” or the “binary digital magic that is the fuel for revolutionary change”, as nicely summarised by Von Drehle. Today this build-up of mass-data is known as IOT (the Internet of Things). It’s a highly engaging topic as it looks to be the future for us all as we use more and more tech devices that record data about the user. Whether you have a phone, a laptop or a car; you will be recording data that’s fed to internet service providers and companies like Google, Comcase and Verizon. The end result is that “Big Brother” or the multi-billion dollar corporations that arguably govern the world today have access to inconceivable amounts of information on us, painting a detailed picture of who we are, who we’re friends with, what we like to do, our sexual preferences – you name it. Suddenly, it’s hard to find a case for us being able to live freely from the eyes of others. Most would argue it’s simply 100% impossible as seen in the interesting article, “Think you can live offline?” by Fast Company.
Let’s take the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings as an example. Despite the utter chaos around the finish line when the two bombs exploded, police were able to post the terrorist’s faces on live TV and broadcast it across the world just hours after the incident happened. Von Drehle draws on this is his article, pointing attention towards how the bomber’s movements during the build-up to the event had been tracked, scanned and stored by numerous surveillance cameras.
And although their quick capture was a “triumph for law enforcement”, it left an “unsettling realisation in its wake: everyone else on those teeming Boston sidewalks was also being watch and remembered”.
But despite this, on personal levels we have still grown accustomed to trading levels of privacy for ease-of-access and supposed benefits. For example, on the laptop I am typing this article up on right now, cookies track the things I search: the things I like, what I am interested in. which sports teams I support or which politicians I follow. It has access to the majority of all my passwords. Want to get into Facebook? No problem, one click and I am logged in. Need to pay for my basket in Amazon? Easy … click. I no longer have to keep remembering email addresses and passwords to access my most valued sites. Surveillance Studies Net (SSN) add to this by highlighting the ubiquitous power of surveillance. It is embedded within systems, structures and the interests they represent. “Its application becomes taken for granted and its consequences go unnoticed”. Thus, the issue is complex as data has the ability to travel silently across international boundaries and is even harder to identify and regulate.
We must fight to highlight the risks in terms of the consequences of mistakes, misidentification and loss of sensitive information, as made clear by the UK’s House of Common’s 2008 publication on “A Surveillance Society?”. The publication argues the importance of privacy in the social contract between citizen and state. And more surveillance undermines this assumption of safety between both parties and erodes trust. Pew’s Research study highlights the issue of who is gathering information and what information is being gathered. The study finds that it is considered to be an important dimension of privacy control by 88% of those in the study who do not wish to be observed without approval.
Clearly we can no longer be “free” in today’s society. We are always being watch or having our data analysed. Even as you’re reading this now, it proves you have shown an interest in blogs, in reading online articles and through the social media you may have used to access this web page. With the aforementioned technology tracking our phone calls, internet searches and movements, the argument towards trying to live without being watched is impossible. Albeit I am sure many of us would like to live that isolated life away from prying eyes and people once in a while! Instead we must prepare ourselves for the IOT future and get used to the masses of data we will be sending towards “big brother”. Let’s just make sure the data being recorded is carefully assessed by ourselves first and not aimlessly thrown around. Maybe we should think twice before allowing one-click access to sites and password recognitions? Otherwise we are at risk of being exploited by those who know more about us than we do ourselves.
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Officially named Generation Z but more commonly known as the “iGeneration”, they are the latest wave of humans born anywhere after 1997. This year is a significant one as the oldest in this group will be entering their 20s and starting work for the first time. Below a is collection of research, statistics and opinions condensed down into the essential things you need to know about these toddlers and teens looking to welcome themselves into the world today.
Despite typically labelled as “screen addicts” with attention spans lasting no longer than a few seconds, many understand that Gen Z will be the ones liable to fixing the mistakes of the recent past and dealing with unprecedented levels of world-change in the form of: increased global warming, turbulent economic policies and unpredictable demographic transformations. However, armed with modern weapons such as complete access to information and ease of unlimited communication through the internet, Gen Z are the first-born into the very recent age of cyberspace – with no experience of anything that came before it. Arguably they are more equipped than anyone before to really revert past aberrations and make a meaningful impact on the world for the better.
But in order for this to happen they are expected to be comfortable with technology and content with social media. According to experts at Fast Company, it’s predicated that by 2020 they will already make-up a third of the population across the Western world and will account for 40% of all spending. The New York Times highlights this technology ataraxia as “untold riches to marketers”, helping signify why the “race to define” this latest wave of children is so hyped by the media and marketers worldwide.
But despite the aforementioned statistics, research conducted by both Fast Company and consultants Honey and Sparks also points towards hidden similarities between Generation Z and their grandparents, the “Silent Generation”, who grew up 50-60 years ago. Interestingly Gen Z tend to be more aware and conservative over their actions online, more money-conscious, more understanding of the geopolitical environment and more knowledgeable on big companies ruling today’s markets that their predecessors. When we look at the eldest Gen Z’ers, the data points towards the increasing difficulties they face while trying to attain graduate jobs, sometimes battling against tens of thousands of applications for the same role. It’s this competition and this new standard of graduate today, with their unlimited access to information and endless array of qualifications that means students today cannot afford to risk taking time-off to travel like their most recent predecessors the “Millennial’s” (those who reached adulthood around the year 2000) could.
Growing up during the 2008 recession has associated them with the “entrepreneurial generation” they are commonly seen as today, spurred on by feelings of unsettlement and insecurity. Many blame their parent’s financial stress and struggles for shaping their “coming of age” and modern world-view. The 2014 study, “Generation Z Goes to College” backs these points and expands further through a series of in-depth interviews with students worldwide today. The study in particular draws attention to how they self-identify with being more compassionate, open-minded and determined than previous generations.
It’s thought that while Millennials helped elect a black president and legalise gay marriage, Generation Z were born with these as the norm and therefore their eyes have been wide open from the beginning.
Today it’s becoming more normal to see once gendered roles such as doctors and personal assistants to become gender-neutral. And thus it’s follows statistically that Gen Z boys today tend to be more family-orientated and are expected to be more actively engaged fathers than their own parents as they grow older.
Using interviews conducted in the aforementioned study, students today desire to “forsake the corporate hustle” for their own controlled start-ups.
Now more than ever, it’s common to love the idea of being pragmatic and working for yourself – derived more as a survival mechanism than an idealist reach for status or wealth.
The Huffington Post add to this by quoting marketing strategist, Deep Patel. His comments draw attention to the newly developing high-tech and highly networked world where “an entire generation is thinking and acting more entrepreneurially”. And why not? Platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are available and provide Gen-Z with free access to seminars, workshops or inspiration we previously needed precious time, money and capabilities to invest into.
But how can one generation be so different from their predecessors? Lucie Green, worldwide director of the innovation Group at J. Walter Thompson brings some interesting points to the table. Her research draws attention to the Millennials as a direct comparison to Gen Z and how they were raised during the boom of the 90s only to see their world crash down with events such as 9/11 and two major economic recessions. Millennials were also shocked to find an unwelcoming job market away from the gold mine promised to them after college.
Gen Z, on the other hand, have been shaped by the recession at a young age as we saw previously. But importantly, Greene notes that even though Gen Z see the workplace as a battlefield, they are inclusive and tolerant of difference, more so than anyone before and we must pay accolade to this fact. They believe they will have to fight for what they want and they’ve become critics over those with ugly corporate cultures or poor working conditions. Emerson Spartz, CEO of the digital media company Dose, adds to the argument, noting how the flashy and conspicuous Abercrombie and Hollister eras are over and instead Gen Z are more concerned with saving money. With free access to information today, Generation Z are heavily influenced by company ethics and what they stand for. Spartz argues they even have a “bullshit filter” built into them or in other words a way in which Gen Z can detect whether a company/ brand is honest or not using the internet.
Today, luck plays a big part in whether you land a job you deserve, contrasting with the entitlement expected by Millennials. And it’s this mentality and tenacity that really pushes Gen Z above the rest. Not only do we owe thanks to past generations in building the foundations for a new diverse and equal generation today, but perhaps and ironically speaking, we can pay tribute to the 2008 economic recession. It shaped and hardened a new wave of go-and-get-it-yourself humans who are raring to make a difference in this world.
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It’s funny isn’t it? We are always looking to grow – and whether that’s in gaining more freedom, more responsibility at work or even bettering ourselves socially and physically – it’s unfortunately only served with a nice side of age. From finishing university and finally landing a sustainable job, to buying your first mortgage and settling down – the list goes on and everything takes time. Before you know it you’ve really grown up. Not only have you started to mature at work but the grey hairs and slowing metabolism are also beginning to show.
Welcome to the world of two choices – a bit like The Matrix. On one hand you can try and “climb the ladder” for the rest of your life, or alternatively you can sit somewhere lower down the ladder, happy with “getting-by” – never out-excelling or testing your comfort zone in anything. Many authors, academics, economists and politicians defend the “ladder” concept as a rigorous blueprint to working-life and encourage us to work hard at it and rise to the top.
The idea of getting off the ladder altogether – a life away from the working world and responsibility, would almost seem mythical to those aforementioned. This “third” option of leaving the ladder and leaving work is almost an impossibility for so many – it’s simply too costly and risky. It’s true – work hard while you’re young, settle down then think about this nonsense. It’s hard to argue to against the norm and what the experts tell us.
However, there is a third choice we can make – I have read about the people who make this decision, I know people who have led the inexpensive nomadic lifestyle and I have spent time researching their lives. What I’ve learnt is we need to pay attention to them. The reality for most of us is the two pills before us are not nearly as satisfying as the third pill – the one Morpheus didn’t tell us about. The lives we could lead are there for the taking, we simply need to become the Peter Pan of this world and grab the opportunity for ourselves.
Many argue that in taking this nomadic lifestyle of freedom and inconsistent change we are being selfish, irresponsible and contributing little to the world in the way of taxes, economic spending or even charity. On the contrary – it is you who dictates your own decisions and it is you, the ladder climber, who is just “getting by” via that route to the top or “success” as it’s commonly known. This isn’t success? Especially when you read about the lives you could lead below – away from the prison of nine-to-fives, pointless meetings and meaningless information we don’t need.
You don’t need to be rich to be enriched by the world and its hidden qualities. This article has taken inspiration from a few unnamed people who have shared their stories with me where a particular decision has had a huge impact on their life. Some people really put off growing-old and really strive off making gut decisions and I think it’s too good not to share with us normal-people, just getting by.
Travel and enrol yourself in things you wouldn’t normally do. One guy called Mark caught my attention – he attended some Mandarin classes for a year, then quit his job when he was at a conversational level and moved to China. As a result, he learnt invaluable qualities you can’t simply pick up in your everyday life. A new culture and new friends who subsequently influenced him personally. Mark learnt first-hand to realise what true poverty is and the affluence we are born with compared to most. If you’re reading this, then this probably applies to you. There’s a world out there far larger than you – and don’t forget it. Mark’s message to me was simple: don’t get sucked into this life of hedonism that can slowly over-shadow you. The sooner you learn about this the quicker you are able to truly appreciate your life and the environment around you. Mark left his ladder four years ago and hasn’t returned since.
The world is chaotic – go see it. Study or work abroad when you can if leaving the ladder isn’t completely realistic for you at the moment. I am speaking from my personal experience in this respect – learn about new cultures – ones far older and more established than yourself. You’ll soon realise the true meaning of hospitality and become self-reliant. Don’t get tied down to responsibility too early if it can be avoided. I read up on blog online which highlighted Sarah’s story. She went traveling for six months to escape work for a while and “find herself”. It’s now been nine years and she has no intention of coming home. Sarah taught me that sometimes it’s good to fall deep and that we should let these people fall. Those who have the courage to leave their comfort with nothing are the heroes of this world. They are re-born with a plethora of new skills and characteristics you ascertain only through once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Another girl, Charlotte, posted a long story online. It was so satisfying to see how she actively made a change to her disappointing and unfulfilling relationship. One day on a business trip she found herself making a phone call to the hotel room where her work colleague was. She was fond of him but unsure whether she really liked him. Anyway, he answered and they ended up going for a long walk in a park next to the hotel in Chicago. After this they spent the following nights of the business trip getting to know each other better. Fast-forward seven years she is now happily together with her ex-colleague living her dream abroad – finding work from one place to another – enough to survive while traveling in Asia but being the far more enlightened because of it. It’s fair to say you can see the importance of making a single adventurous decision. Charlotte is in a better position then she would have ever been on any ladder.
One story really summed up a problem so many of us, including myself, can relate to. That fear of sticking to what we know and always making the rational, safer options. This is all about the importance of self-actualisation or finding meaning and purpose in your life. One of my closest friends struggled during university – she was working hard but wasn’t properly engaged in the work she was doing. So instead she enrolled herself in a part-time job writing for an independent news firm. Her parents were worried she’d be spread too thin alongside all the work she had at college. They tried numerous times to stop her from writing – but in the end she pulled through and ended up changing her college degree towards something more suited to her passion because she was so good at it.
Now within two years she is pursuing her dream and actively traveling around the world while writing – funded by the money it provides her. It makes her happy and continues to shape her life every-day. If she hadn’t made the decision to go against her parent’s firm stance, then she may never have discovered her passion and the success that came with it.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” is heavily quoted world-wide. Yet Saint Augustine of Hippo’s words are true now more than ever. Once you have truly observed the world – then you can create something unique and mark your legacy. And if you don’t leave your legacy – then what was the point?
As Thomas Edison once famously said, “I haven’t failed – I’ve just found 10,000 ways of not doing it right”. This quote really stands out in the sense that we can’t give up – keep looking for the life you want until you are satisfied – maybe it’ll take a lifetime to find, but if you find it then you’ve achieved more than most – making you unique. To many entrepreneurs their hallmark trait is their perpetual discontent. They constantly look to re-invest themselves or their business until you meet your own standards which are probably higher than anything anyone else could expect of you. The world is your oyster and only you have the power and knowledge to know what you’re capable of doing so make the most of it. I think this is something we can all strive for in jumping off our ladders.
The book – “when things fall apart” by Pema Chödrön is of particular relevance to this article. Her words highlight how we, humanity, are so used to this idea of running from discomfort. And if we don’t like it we strike out at someone or beat ourselves up. “We want to have security and certainty of some kind when actually we have no ground to stand on at all.
The next time there’s no ground to stand on, don’t consider it an obstacle. Consider it a remarkable stroke of luck.”
It’s only when we have no ground to stand on that we can inspire ourselves to do great things and really exceed our boundaries. Or … “We start by working with the monsters in our mind. Then we develop the wisdom and compassion to communicate sanely with the threats and fears of our daily life.”
The above rules should act as a guideline to anyone looking for that third choice. By taking the aforementioned points into account – we are closer to leaving that ladder we don’t want to be on and closer to finding that third option we have to grab before it’s too late.
The health and fitness industry today – it’s booming. And by this I mean: countless rows of food supplements online and in stores; endless streams of sign-up promotions; the never-ending blogs and vlogs promoting opposing theories and takes on how to “gym”. This industry is literally everywhere and it’s been clouding so many of us from the real way to stay in shape, maintain a balanced lifestyle and eat the right foods.
So let’s cut through the irrelevant and get straight down to the essentials.
Today we are seeing more join the gym and actively begin their inevitably short-sighted endeavour to “get fit” or “stay active” or whatever it may be. It’s proven that 45% of us join the gym as a “new year’s resolution” in the hope of losing weight – but just 8% actually succeed.
Facts speak for themselves – the industry has deliberately over-complicated itself through mass advertisement and miss-leading theories so that we, the customer, (and albeit confused and innocent customer) are opening our pockets in the hope we will find a quick fix to a deep problem.
Flick onto Google and you’ll see possibly the biggest stream of unproven, health-related “ideas” and “solutions” that one could ever imagine. Protein, image, looks, muscles, dietary supplements, weight gaining supplements, different pills, liquids and powders that can do anything from giving you a more vascular-look or give you that unnatural energy boost for the pre-workout litter our internet today.
It was only last week that one of my friends asked me: “where do you buy your protein from and oh, by the way, should I buy creatine or creatine monohydrate?”. It was at this point that I realised I have been so oblivious to the commercialisation of the industry. People who want to get involved in this unfortunately have to wade through utter pages of miss-matched theories before they can get the answer they want. If I were to then compare what my friends individually thought on “good” or “bad” foods – the results would be surprising with some arguing coffee and a glass of red wine a day being good for you while others saying the complete opposite.
The truth is: we are getting such mixed responses from endless and nameless sources that the industry is in a complete money-making mess. The consumer is confused – but it doesn’t matter and big companies and so-called “experts” will always exploit the fact that we don’t really know what’s in our food supplements our why we should take things 8 times a day or before bed and the reasoning behind it. We, as a result, are miss-using these products and simply depending on big results from minimal effort.
Below are my 5 simple rules that echo the stripped-down and principal pillars of health.
1: Do not focus on one food type and do not use protein as a food replacement. Use it wisely. Consume normal amounts of protein straight after a work-out for maximum effect at replenishing torn muscles. But don’t be one of these guys who eats 8 scoops a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s not healthy.
2: There are no set techniques best suited to any one individual. Just because someone online says technique X is the best doesn’t necessarily mean it’s best for you. In fact, just stick to using the personal trainers in your gym, rather than online resources – as it’ll only confuse you more. Again, keep it simple. Do whatever feels comfortable yet gives you a satisfying workout – the results will show for themselves.
3: Don’t force yourself to sign up for something you’re not going to do. You need to be mentally prepared when joining a gym. Write down your goal – it might be to attend just once a week or maybe for others, 4 times a week. Now stick to it, give room for a few exceptions and stay strong to what you’ve written. Discipline cannot be underestimated.
4: If you’ve skipped a day – and don’t intend of doing any other exercise – then compromise by not eating so many carbs. This is just wasted energy and will be stored as fat. No wonder so many people who “go to the gym” carb-load too much and end up looking worse than when they started.
5: Know the theory. Eat the right amounts of protein, carbs, natural fats and fruit and veg. Restrict yourself on all the unhealthy things – alcohol, cigarettes and artificial sugars/ fats. Easy?
With these rules in mind – you are well on your way to a comfortable health transformation to whatever suits your needs. Just keep these 5 things in mind and you can’t go wrong.
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